Students Connect, Prepare for Election 2020

By Sarah Senese ’23

In the days ahead of the presidential election, CC students came together as one way to prepare themselves to stay well, and engaged, during election season. Students who participated in and moderated an event called “MapQuest Voting Prep” hosted by CC Middle Ground, share their insights on what the CC community is doing to participate, prepare, and engage in the election this week. Middle Ground is a student group that hosts workshops and trainings on navigating difficult discussions.

CC Middle Ground and the students involved created the virtual event to help students navigate this week mentally — they wanted to give the college-aged voters of CC an opportunity to brainstorm comprehensive coping strategies and feel a bit more in control of a situation that at times, may feel incredibly overwhelming. During the Zoom event, they talked through crafting a personalized plan for how participants would spend Election Day, mapping out a decision tree based on, the election outcome.

Alanna Jackson ’23 believes it’s important for CC student voters to have a plan in place during the election process because it allows anxious new voters who may feel like the process is completely out of their control some peace of mind.

Deksyos Damtew ’22 adds that “knowing who you want to call when election results go your way or who to call if they don’t is a great way to make sure we’re all connected in this virtual world.” Damtew and other students find that making a plan can be not only helpful for taking care of your mental health but allows each person to think critically about a support system for future stressors that may be out of your control.  

The students who participated in this event are also deeply committed to promoting election participation at CC, because they believe this particular election “holds the power to shape lives for years to come,” says Jackson. Adding that getting involved in the election, in whatever capacity that may be, is important for the preservation of democracy and the creation of change, which can happen even at the level of a local Colorado Springs college-aged voter. 

When asked why they participate in events like “MapQuest Voting Prep,” phone banking, and overall voter advocacy in the CC and Colorado Springs communities, the students all had personal reasons for encouraging participation. For Damtew, “as an Ethiopian American, I had to go through the process of a becoming a citizen. Through that process, I learned that participation in democracy was by no means a guarantee. To me, voting in this election was a form of resistance.” For Elena Martinez-Vivot ’21 (pictured, center), a Colorado Springs native and current chair of CC Votes, she’s “always had an intense desire to bridge the gap between the college and the city and found politics to be a meaningful way of achieving this goal.” The common sentiment for most CC voters is that this election isn’t just about them, but the entire community. It involves both the greater CC community, but also the community that Colorado College has the privilege of functioning within